Major Works
by Mestrovic


Emile Durkheim and the Reformation of Sociology

About this title:
"An important contribution to the understanding of the sociology of Emile Durkheim."

"Much has been written about sociology's intellectual crisis, but few promising solutions have been offered. Mestrovic nominates Durkheim as the perfect 'totem' to achieve a contemporary reconciliation of the conceptual gap characterizing modern sociology....For the serious Durkheim scholar, this work is a treasure trove."
--Contemporary Sociology

"A refreshing reappraisal of Durkheim's sociology. This work should interest a range of sociologists, but especially sociological theorists, Durkheim scholars and those in the sociology of knowledge."
--Sociological Inquiry


The Balkanization of the West: The Confluence of Postmodernism and Postcommunism

About this title:
In this passionate, vigorous and uncompromising book, Stjepan Mestrovic argues that, instead of reacting immediately and authoritatively to the horrible crimes against humanity in the former Yugoslavia, the world has acted the voyeur--passively watching, monitoring, observing, but taking no action to end the killings. "The Balkanization of the West takes the lid off that confused Western response to the Balkan war. The demise of communism that began in 1989 coincided with widespread discussion of postmodernism. But instead of leading to the end desired by postmodern theorists, namely tolerance, it has led to the genocide we are seeing in Ex-Yugoslavia. Furthermore, the brutal, current Balkan War may be a harbinger of similar savagery about to erupt in the former Soviet Union, especially in its Southern frontiers and against its Muslim minorities. Mestrovic analyzes how postmodern media contributed to the current state of voyeurism to the point where genocide is tolerated. By attempting to solve the current Balkan War through pure negotiation and other "rational" means derived from these Enlightenment narratives, the west has placed its credibility on the line. Indeed, the current Balkan War is depicted by opinion-makers in the information media in frankly apocalyptic, post-modern terms, as the end of the EC, UN, NATO, American leadership, and civilization itself. Thus, the "real" war in the Balkans has been reduced to mere metaphors and euphemisms--Balkan tribalism, ethnic conflict, ethnic cleansing--while these same metaphors, paradoxically, seem to apply to the once seemingly unified West. "The Balkanization of the West is aimed at a wide and interdisciplinary audience, and will be of great interest to all those who seek a thorough and complex evaluation of the ongoing events in the former Yugoslavia.

Durkheim and Postmodern Culture



Habits of the Balkan Heart: Social Character and the Fall of Communism


Postemotional Society

About this title:
Arguing that the focus of postmodernism has been on knowledge and information, Postemotional Society demonstrates how the emotions in mass industrial societies have been neglected to devastating effects. Using a wealth of information, author Stjepan G. Mestrovic shows how emotion has become increasingly separated from action; how in a world of disjointed and synthetic emotions social solidarity has become increasingly problematic; and how compassion fatigue has increasingly replaced political commitment and responsibility. Mestrovic's argument is rigorous and thorough, discussing the relation between knowledge and the emotions in thinkers as diverse as Durkheim and Baudrillard, as well as examining the carnage in the former Yugoslavia. This stimulating and provocative work concludes with a discussion of the postemotional society, where the peer group replaces the government as the means of social control. Postemotional Society will be read as critical commentary and as social and cultural theory in the great sociological tradition of Veblen, Riesman, and Mills and thus will be invaluable to students in the fields of sociology, social theory, and political science. "A valuable and stimulating learning experience . . . accessible, finely written, passionate, and important." --Keith Tester, Professor of Sociology, University of Portsmouth

The Barbarian Temperament; Toward a Postmodern Critical Theory

About this title:
The scintillating book by one of hte most interesting young sociologists currently working in the USA is a provocative and timely contribution to the debate on civilization, modernity and postmodernity. The author argues that modernity never jettisoned barbarism. Instead barbarism was repackaged in modern and postmodern traditions and cultures.

This Time We Knew: Western Responses to Genocide in Bosnia
By Thomas Cushman and Stjepan G, Mestrovic (Editors).

About this title:
"We didn't know." For half a century, Western politicians and intellectuals have in this fashion explained away their inaction in the face of genocide in World War II. In stark contrast, Western observers today face a daily barrage of information and images from CNN, the Internet, and newspapers about the parties and individuals responsible for the Balkan War and crimes against humanity. The stories, often accompanied by video or pictures of rape, torture, mass graves, and ethnic cleansing, available almost instantaneously, do not allow even the most disinterested viewer to ignore the grim reality of genocide. And yet, while knowledge abounds, so do rationalizations for non-intervention in Balkan affairs - the threshold of "real" genocide had yet to be reached in Bosnia; all sides were equally guilty; Islamic fundamentalism in Bosnia is a threat to the West; it will only end when they all tire of killing each other - to name but a few. This Time We Knew punctures once and for all common excuses for Western inaction in the face of incontrovertible evidence of the most egregious crimes against humanity to occur in Europe since World War II.

Reluctant Modernity: The Institution of Art and Its Historical Forms: The Institution of Art and Its Historical Forms
By Ales Debeljak and Stjepan G. Mestrovic (Editors)

About this title:
In this book Ales Debeljak offers a refreshing alternative to postmodernists such as Baudrillard who declare the death of art conceived as yet another source of rootless, circulating fictions. Inspired by the melancholy critical theory of Adorno and Benjamin, and drawing on Weber, Debeljak shows that with the dawning of modernity, art was made autonomous -- art production was effectively emancipated from the exigencies of everyday life and its guiding ideal of purposive rationality. The Renaissance brought on the first stage in a long, gradual withdrawal of art from the hitherto dominant mythological, religious, and aristocratic legitimization. Yet it was not until the 18th century that art assumed the separate status of a commodity to be bought and sold. But art paid a price for its autonomy; through commodification art production ultimately become an extension of capitalist logic and control. The deterioration of bourgeois liberal individualism into the narcissism of mass society accompanied the decomposition of art into simplified mass art and commercialized kitsch. Maintaining its formal autonomy (museums, galleries, etc.) its content became the universal object of indirect corporate exploitation. Today postmodern art, argues Debeljak, is subjected to infinite reproducibility, total integration into mass society, and political resignation -- no longer representing an alternative reality. The postmodern institution of art thus cannot be simply cured of modern structures and assumptions, but is, instead, fated to a continuous and painful relationship with modernity

Feeling and Form in Social Life
By Lloyd Sandelands & Stjepan G. Mestrovic (editors)

About this title:
Feeling and Form in Social Life shows how a vigorous and practical science of society can be built. Drawing in part from the philosophy of Susanne Langer, Lloyd Sandelands reveals human societies to be forms of life known intuitively as feelings of a whole rather than as observed interactions of persons. These feelings, which are personal and subjective, are made public and objective by the uniquely human capacity for artistic abstraction. Through art, people turn invisible feelings and forms of society into visible objects and performances that can be shared and studied scientifically. The book brings this idea of society to life with diverse examples of social feelings and forms expressed in a stadium chant, folk dance, gift ritual, tree symbol, photograph, and organizational chart. Sandelands concludes with a powerful discussion of the implications of this idea for expanding the scope of social science and for resolving its persistent underlying confusions.

The Conceit of Innocence: Losing the Conscience of the West in the War Against Bosnia

About this title:
Innocence may be lost in the post-Cold War West with regard to democratic reform in Eastern Europe, but the practice of a "conceit" of innocence--or imitation of a purity of action commonly associated with the 1950s--is the theme explored in this unusual collection of essays contributed by a number of varied professionals, ranging from sociologist, anthropologist, journalist, political scientist, and other fields.

Genocide After Emotion: The Postemotional Balkan War

About this title:
The failure to adequately respond on the part of the major Western superpowers to the atrocities in the Balkans constitutes a major moral and political scandal. In "Genocide After Emotion Mestrovic and the contributors thoroughly interrogate the war, its media coverage and response in the West. The result is alarming, both for the progress of the war and for the condition of our society today: the authors argue that the West is suffering from a 'postemotional' condition - we are beyond caring about anything anymore. This book contains contributions from Philip J. Cohen, Norman Cigar, Slaven Letica, James J. Sadkovich, C.G. Schoenfeld, Thomas Cushman and Igor Primoratz.

Road from Paradise
by Stjepan G. Mestrovic, Slaven Letica, & Miroslav Goreta

About this title:
Are we really at the "end of history", as some have claimed? Has the United States really won the Cold War? Will liberal democracy now triumph over nationalism and totalitarianism? The authors of this book warn that history may already have returned in newly free Eastern Europe, with war in the Balkans, capitalism not yet established, and a number of new democracies already turning autocratic. The West has responded to these sinister developments with paralysis and confusion. The 1989 fall of communism in Eastern Europe occurred in a period when Western intellectuals were involved in a confusing discourse on a number of other dramatic endings: the end of modernity, the end of the century, even the possible end of sociology. Against this backdrop, the authors focus on continuities based on the "habits of the heart" of those who threw off communism in Eastern Europe, contrasting them with Western modes of thought. Their cultural explanation draws on theories of Tocqueville, Durkheim, and others to examine positive as well as negative aspects of the nations that survived communism. While focusing on the Balkans, they also make cautious prognoses for the rest of Eastern Europe. They conclude that, in addition to the scenario desired by the West - establishment of a market economy, democracy, and pluralism in postcommunist lands - other possible scenarios need to be recognized, including continued balkanization, conflict, and chaos, and the emergence of new totalitarian states. If the West is to plant democracy in Eastern Europe, it must base its actions on a realistic appraisal of the historical and cultural forces at work. Boosterish optimism and unrealistic hopes, they warn, are an unrealistic response to the fall of communism.

Coming Fin de Siecle: An Application of Durkheim's Sociology to Modernity and Postmodernism

About this title:
The Coming Fin de Siecle uses Durkheim's sociological theories to sort out the confusion surrounding the debate on modernity and postmodernity. Stjepan Mestrovic argues that striking parallels can be drawn between today and the social context of the 1890s, when Durkheim first began to publish his work in book form. Re-examining the fin de siecle spirit of the 19th century, Mestrovic argues that the fruits of the Enlightenment are either dead or dying, and concludes that a new liberalism can be founded on Nietzsche's and Durkheim's "cult of feeling"--a doctrine of benign irrationalism.

Anthony Giddens: The Last Modernist

About this title:
Anthony Giddens is arguably the world's leading sociologist. In this controversial contribution to the Giddens debate, Stjepan Mestrovic takes up and criticizes the major themes of his work - particularly the concept of 'high modernity' as opposed to 'postmodernity' and his attempted construction of a 'synthetic' tradition based on human agency and structure. Testing Giddens' theories against what is happening in the real world from genocide in Africa to near secession in Quebec, Mestrovic discerns in the construction of synthetic traditions not the promise of freedom held out by Giddens but rather the ominous potential for new forms of totalitarian control.

Thorstein Veblen: On Culture and Society

Book Description
Best known as the author of the acclaimed book, The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), Thorstein Veblen was much more than a one-book wonder. He is in fact a seminal classical sociologist who made many original contributions to the study of culture and society. This inspired selection conveys the full zest and penetrating insights of Veblen's writings.The collection comes with a full-length essay which demonstrates the continuing relevance of Veblen's sociology.

Text includes Thorstein Veblen's thoughts on the instability of knowledge and belief, the technology of predatory culture, sabotage, patriotism, the barbarian status of women, and credit culture. Introductory chapter contends that Veblen may be considered the first genuine sociologist of consumer society.


Dr. Elwell's Home Page

©Frank Elwell
Send comments to